How To Remove Aquarium Algae In Fish Tanks

Author: Kristy Walker   Date Posted: 2 October 2018 

Learn the best ways to prevent, manage and control algae in your aquariums and fish tanks. Learn the best ways to prevent, manage and control algae in your aquariums and fish tanks.

What Is Algae?

Algae is a simple small green plant that can appear and grow in your aquarium tanks. Commonly thought of as a ‘weed’, aquarium hobbyists typically work hard to keep their algae growth under control. 

Algae growth typically occurs when there is a nutrient imbalance in your water. Understanding nutrients and their imbalances - and how they can encourage algae growth - is an important step in algae control.

Fertilisers- If you are using fertilizerfertiliser for your aquatic plants, adding too much aquarium fertilizer fertiliser can cause algae growth and problems. Check the recommended dosage (typically labelled on your fertiliser product instructions) and adjust as necessary. You can also increase the amount of aquarium plants in your tank. 

Light- Light is likely the most common culprit for algae problems in aquariums. Importantly, your aquarium should not be exposed to direct sunlight. For tanks with aquarium plants and lights, algae is more common if there are not enough live aquarium plants or if they are not well established. Fast growing aquatic plants and floating plants can help curb the growth of algae. 

Nitrate- Nitrate, while an essential nutrient for your aquarium, is problematic if excessive. You can control your nitrate levels by not overfeeding your fish, not overstocking your aquarium and maintaining regular water changes. Nitrate can be monitored with aquarium testing kits

Phosphate- Similar to nitrate, excessive phosphate can build up from excessive fish waste, which can be avoided by not overfeeding fish or overstocking your aquarium. 

 

Will Algae Hurt My Fish or Plants?

While algae is commonly referred to as a ‘weed’, it is not automatically problematic. Small amounts of algae which are easily controlled with algae-eating fish or routine tank maintenance, can be a natural part of your aquarium ecosystem. 

The most dangerous part of algae is if it is allowed to die off or rot and not be removed from your tank and filters. Dying or rotting algae can clog filters and spike your ammonia levels, which is harmful to your aquarium. While the occurrence of algae requires your care and attention, it is not a reason to panic. Careful monitoring and maintenance - and ensuring you have no dead or rotting algae - is key to keeping your aquarium healthy. 

How Can I Get Rid of Algae in My Fish Tank?

There are numerous ways to prevent and control algae in your aquariums. 

Algae-Eating Inhabitants

One of the most enjoyable ways is to add algae-eating fish to your aquarium. These include Pleco Catfish, Ramshorn Snails and Cherry Shrimp, which are known to devour eat algae in aquariums. Your ‘clean up crew’ will eat a lot of algae, but are unlikely to manage to eat all the algae in your aquarium. So while a pleco catfish, aquatic snail or shrimp are helpful additions to your fish tank, they are unlikely to completely solve any algae problems.

Aquarium Light

Another algae preventative measure is to reduce the amount of light your aquarium is exposed to. Firstly, your aquariums should be moved away from any source of direct sunlight, such as a window. Additionally, aquarium lights should be kept on for 10-12 hours per day. Any longer than this recommended time will not benefit your aquarium plants, but it will encourage algae growth! 

Live Aquarium Plants

The right balance of aquarium plants can go a long way to combat algae growth. A heavily planted aquarium stocked with a variety of plants - including fast growing plants - will be a valuable competitor for nutrients against algae. Help and advice for successfully setting up a planted aquarium can be found in our blog, ‘How To Set Up A Planted Aquarium’.

 

Aquarium Water Changes

For a persistent algae problem, regular water changes in your fish tank can assist in helping you to balance nutrients and get control of excessive algae. 

Water changes, even with an excessive algae problem, need to be handled carefully. Changing more than 20% of your water at one time can shock and harm your fish. For each water change, a water conditionerwill need to be added, to protect your fish from untreated tap water. 

Aquarium Algae Control Products

To further help you control algae problems in your aquarium, there are a range of powerful productswhich can help you tackle the problem head on. 

While these products are safe for most plants and fish when used as directed, they should be saved for use after you have attempted to address the other contributing factors listed above. 

Additionally, handy tools such as a Deep Reach Algae Scrubcan allow you to use its angled design to really get into the nooks and crannies of your aquarium to clear away unwanted algae. 

Using algae control products and tools in conjunction with regular water and parameter maintenance will allow you to get back in control of any algae problems which arise. 

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